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Assurant Health, NCQA, Harvard Pilgrim, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and Partners HealthCare Join Health Care Cost Institute Initiative to Advance Health Care Cost and Quality Transparency

The Plans Join Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare in Transparency Initiative

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) announced today that Assurant Health will join three other major health insurance companies, Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare, to work with HCCI as it develops free online tools that will offer consumers the most comprehensive information about the price and quality of health care services.

In addition, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) will join a committee charged with identifying quality metrics and data that will be incorporated into the tools. This committee includes the chief medical officers from each of the participating health plans and others are being recruited.

Further, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and Partners HealthCare are participating to develop consumer transparency and public reporting standards for capitated, integrated, and valued-based health plan designs. (Capitation is a payment arrangement for a health service provider that provides care for a fixed amount for each enrollee regardless of whether or not they seek care.) HCCI will use these recommendations to guide future development of its health care cost and quality transparency initiative and to develop standards for public reporting by state all-payer claims databases.

“These recommendations will offer valuable insights about health costs and resources and make information on the cost and quality of health care more accessible and easier to understand, particularly in light of new payment models,” said David Newman, Executive Director of HCCI.

The independent, not for profit HCCI announced in May that it will create and administer an information portal that will provide consumers, employers and regulators comprehensive information about the price and quality of health care. In July, HCCI announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has granted it access to the Medicare fee-for-service data set as CMS’ only national qualified entity. HCCI expects the new transparency tools to be available in early 2015 and will maintain and manage access to the information in a highly secure, protected environment.

“HCCI’s transparency tools will give consumers a single, comprehensive destination for data on health care cost and quality to help them make more informed decisions about treatments and services,” said Newman. “By participating in this expanding initiative, these organizations are helping to ensure the sustainability of the U.S. health system.”

Other major carriers continue to express interest in the initiative and HCCI expects more health plans and other stakeholders to join in the near future.

Health care costs have been rising more than three times as fast as wages. Official estimates project that U.S. health spending will reach $4.7 trillion by the end of the decade—an 80 percent increase from $2.6 trillion in 2010—underlining the need to better understand the cost and quality of health care services to help make decisions and choices about purchasing care.

HCCI’s tools will aggregate data from commercial health plans with the intention of ultimately linking it to data from Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans. Price data includes the allowed amount paid by the insurer plus copays and deductibles. The cost data will be supplemented with data on quality. The information will be available to consumers, purchasers, regulators and payers in an accessible, comparable and easy-to-use format. Employers will be able to customize their employees’ experience.

HCCI expects the transparency platform will continue to be refined in subsequent releases after its introduction. For example, future updates of the tools are expected to include more comparison features, such as allowing for comparison of prices between providers and, in the longer term, data from fee-for-service Medicare and Medicaid programs, as and when it becomes available.

Participating insurers will continue to offer their own transparency tools and solutions in addition to contributing to HCCI’s platform.

About the Health Care Cost Institute
The Health Care Cost Institute was launched in 2011 to promote independent, nonpartisan research and analysis on the causes of the rise in U.S. health spending. For more information, visit www.healthcostinstitute.org or follow us on Twitter @healthcostinst.

About Assurant Health
Assurant Health is the brand name for a family of health insurance products focused on providing a variety of affordable plan choices to consumers. The portfolio of health care products includes major medical and supplemental plans for individuals, families and small employers. Assurant Health is committed to providing access to convenient health care delivery, easy-to-understand products and value-added services that help customers better manage their health care dollars and get the most out of their coverage, ultimately seeking to protect not only financial security but also the health and well-being of its customers. Assurant Health is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis. Assurant Health is part of Assurant, a premier provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and select worldwide markets. Assurant, a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Assurant has approximately $30 billion in assets and $9 billion in annual revenue. Assurant has approximately 17,500 employees worldwide and is headquartered in New York's financial district. For more information on Assurant Health, please visit www.assuranthealth.com.

About Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is a not-for-profit health services company serving more than one million members in New England. Founded in 1969, the health plan has built its reputation on pragmatic innovation with a goal of lowering costs, improving care and enhancing the overall member experience. Harvard Pilgrim is known for its excellent clinical programs, customer service, health improvement strategies and innovative tools that offer consumers greater transparency and empower them to make better decisions about their health care. Harvard Pilgrim is the #1 private health services company in America again according to an annual ranking of the nation’s best health plans by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Harvard Pilgrim is the only private health plan in the nation to be named #1 for member satisfaction and quality of care for ten consecutive years.

About Health Net
Health Net, Inc. (NYSE: HNT) is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net provides and administers health benefits to approximately 5.8 million individuals across the country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid, U.S. Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Health Net also offers behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs, managed health care products related to prescription drugs, managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers, and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs. For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit the company’s website at www.healthnet.com.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. Kaiser Permanente is recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. Kaiser Permanente currently serves approximately 9.5 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Its expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.

About NCQA
NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA’s Web site (ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.

About Partners HealthCare
Partners HealthCare is an integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to its two academic medical centers, the Partners system includes community and specialty hospitals, a managed care organization, community health centers, a physician network, home health and long-term care services, and other health-related entities. Partners is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Partners HealthCare is a non-profit organization.

For The Health Care Cost Institute
Jemma Weymouth, 301-280-5706
jweymouth@burnesscommunications.com

Source: Health Care Cost Institute